Opinion: New poll: John McCain/Condi Rice ticket wins N.Y. vs Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton


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Oh, those folks at the Marist Poll in New York are too much. The trouble is there’s not much happening on the political surface on the Republican side of the spectrum these days.

Sen. John McCain is quietly fundraising, as much as he hates that part, and organizing his fall election strategy, which will change about 1,000 times before Nov. 4. He’s already started defining himself and his life story again for those Americans who haven’t been paying attention for a quarter-century.


And Sen. Barack Obama is closing in on or close to Sen. Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, where he’s spent enough TV ad money in recent days to buy the eastern half of the state. But those folks don’t vote until the 22nd. So there’s a lull with, shall we say, sniper fire going back and forth between the Democratic camps.

So why not poll a hypothetical Republican ticket just for fun? Never mind any political realities, who says what they won’t do right now because it always changes anyway.

How about pairing up, say, McCain and Condoleezza Rice, who’s....

not only female and African American and from the state with the most electoral votes? But she’s smart, has already answered the crisis phone at all hours, seems liked by conservatives who know her and, importantly, she’s no no-name GOP congressman like Barry Goldwater chose and when people heard the name William Miller, they said, ‘Who?’

She also plays the piano and can go on with Jay Leno and join Kevin and the band just fine some night.

So Marist went out and polled its home state, a traditionally Democratic bulwark that’s got a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators, including the one who’s always denouncing President Bush and the one who’s running for president and only picks on Bush when she gets in trouble for picking on Obama.

And what Marist asked 576 New York voters about was a matchup between a McCain-Rice ticket and the alleged Democratic dream ticket which is, depending on your age, education and income, either Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton.

Holy Rezko! By St. Bosnia! The Republicans actually win that hypothetical matchup!

McCain-Rice: 49%

Clinton-Obama: 46%

Turn things around on Howard Dean’s side and the Republican team still plays better in New York today:

McCain-Rice: 49%

Obama-Clinton: 44%

Yeh, sure there’s all sorts of caveats. A margin of error of +/-4. Obama has ruled out the VP spot. Rice says Palo Alto looks real good after the West Bank and Gaza. McCain’s still drawing up his long VP list.

But it’s 4 1/2 months until the Democrats meet in Denver and a week longer til the Republican suits gather in St. Paul. And the Democrats have to work out this Michigan-Florida thing and Clinton’s got to give up at some point, most people think, except the Clintons.

And McCain’s got to quietly reassure the conservative crowd without scaring the independents and middle-of-the-roaders. And getting a lot more money wouldn’t hurt.

But look what’s happened in the last 4 1/2 months. The whole Huckabee thing. Edwards evaporating. The snipers in Tuzla. Rich Romney rolling over. Giuliani giving up. Fred Thompson still sleeping. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright waking everyone up. Ron Paul still out there somewhere. Oprah doing a cannonball in the Des Moines’ Marriott pool.

There’s more to the Marist Poll (New Yorkers’ approval of Sen. Clinton’s work, for example, is down to 50% now from 54%, in part because she hasn’t really been doing a lot of senatoring the last 14 months). And the poll is, after all, just a momentary snapshot.

But in a supposedly Democratic year, a poll raising even the possibility of the GOP taking the Empire State in November while the Democrats fight themselves to a tie in April, is just one more marker of what a remarkable political year this is.

And we aren’t even halfway.

-- Andrew Malcolm